| GEO Sports|
Commonwealth Games leave 2,50,000 homeless
| Updated at: 0950 PST, Thursday, October 14, 2010|
NEW DELHI: Even as the nation applauds India's winning spree in the Commonwealth Games being held in the Capital, a study by Housing and Land Rights Network says that human rights violations of the city's working poor, including the homeless, beggars, street vendors, and construction workers in the name of the Games cannot be forgotten.
According to HLRN, forced eviction and demolition of thousands of Delhi residents' homes took place for reasons like constructing stadiums, building parking lots, widening roads, city ‘beautification,' and clearing of streets on grounds of ‘security'.
The study focussed on forced evictions carried out in Delhi because of the Games and found that at least 2,50,000 people in the city lost their homes as a direct result of the Games since 2004. The preliminary findings of the ongoing study suggest that the due process for demolition of homes in various parts of the city was not followed, in addition to police presence and use of force, injury and adverse health effects, loss and destruction of possessions, adverse effects on children, death, loss of livelihood and income and no compensation or resettlement offered to the evictees.
The study found that many of these evictions were carried out in extreme weather or at night, like the one at Bengali Camp in January 2009 during the winter festival Lohri. Several children were forced to drop out of school or lose a year because the demolitions happened immediately before or during examination time. Two homeless persons died at Pusa Road roundabout when their night shelters were demolished in December 2009. There were also reports of homes being destroyed while the residents were away.
According to HLRN, forced evictions carried out in the run up to the Games violate national and international legal instruments including breach of United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, which stipulate that evictions must not take place in severe weather, at night, during festivals or religious holidays, prior to elections or during or just prior to school examinations.
The UN guidelines call for States to ensure that no one is subject to direct or indiscriminate attacks or other acts of violence and also mandate just compensation and sufficient alternative accommodation, or restitution when feasible, to be provided immediately upon the eviction. The Supreme Court of India also holds the right to adequate housing as a fundamental human right emanating from the right to life.
No compensation or resettlement was provided at any of the sites surveyed by HLRN. The only exception was Dargah Bhure Shah Camp, where plots were allotted in Savda Ghewra to around 80-85 of the 115 families who lost their homes. Though the Delhi High Court had ordered relocation for the families at Gadia Lohar Basti, they were yet to be rehabilitated.
In view of the treatment meted out to the evicted households, HLRN asked for immediate compensation for all evicted families, for those who suffered injuries or adverse health effects and for families whose members lost their lives due to forced eviction. It also asked for adequate rehabilitation for all evicted families in accordance with national and international human rights standards and improvement of living conditions in existing resettlement sites, including provision of basic services, infrastructure, healthcare, education and transport.